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McDaniels v. Stewart

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 28, 2017

PETER J. MCDANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
BELINDA STEWART et al., Defendants,

          ORDER ON SEVERAL MOTIONS

          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court are several motions filed by Plaintiff: (1) Motion to Compel (Dkt. 155); (2) Motion for Extension of Time (Dkt. 178); (3) Motion to Allow Appeal to Proceed on Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 182); (4) Motion for Leave to Appeal In Forma Pauperis (Dkt. 183); (5) Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages - Reply to Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Allow Appeal to Proceed on Preliminary Injunction. (Dkt. 193) and (6) Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages - Response Defendants' Motion to Lift Stay (Dkt. 196).[1] Defendants also filed a Motion to Lift Stay (Dkt. 194).

         Plaintiff, presently confined at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center (“SCCC”), alleges in his Second Amended Complaint his constitutional rights have been violated due to the inadequacy of the Halal meals provided by Defendants, allergies to soy and textured vegetable protein (“TVP”) and being served rotten meat thereby infringing on his religious practices. Dkt. 165.

         On January 13, 2017, the Court stayed this matter until March 31, 2017 pending resolution of class certification in another pending case, Haldane et al. v. Hammond et al., Case No. 15-1810-RAJ. Dkt. 164. The Court directed Plaintiff to file a status report on or before March 24, 2017, advising the Court of the status of class certification in Haldane.[2] Id. On March 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a status report, stating he wished to proceed in this case, on his claim for damages in this case. Dkt. 176.[3] Thus, the Court finds that the stay is lifted as of March 31, 2017 and proceeds to consider the pending motions in this case. Defendants' Motion to Lift Stay (Dkt. 194) is granted.

         A. Motion to Compel (Dkt. 155)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants' responses to Plaintiff's Requests for Admission, Requests for Interrogatories, and Requests for Production of Documents to Defendants Perdue, Carney, DOC, Smith, Parker and Hammond are insufficient. Dkt. 155. Defendants agree to supplement some of the discovery responses, but dispute the remaining requests arguing they are duplicative, cumulative, can be obtained from another more convenient source, and the burden outweighs any likely benefit in resolving the issues alleged in Plaintiff's Second Complaint.[4] Dkt. 161.

         Defendants agree to supplement the responses to Requests for Admissions to Defendant Perdue: 13, 23, 24, 30, 31, 31, 32, 33, 40, 45, 69, 80, 81, 97, and 99; Requests for Interrogatories to Defendant Perdue 14 and 15; Requests for Admission to defendant Carney: 28, 29; Requests for Admission to Defendant DOC: 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 98, 99 and 100. Dkt. 161. Thus, the discovery issues in dispute are: (1) Defendant Perdue: Requests for Admission: 17, 92, 94; Interrogatory 22; Request for Production of Documents: 1; (2) Defendant Smith: Requests for Admission: 19, 45; Interrogatories: 2, 9; (3) Defendant Parker: Requests for Admission: 9; 10, 11, 12, 13; (4) Defendant Hammond: Interrogatory 10; (5) Defendant DOC: Requests for Admission: 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 40, 41, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 70, 86, 87, 88.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense - including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Id.

         When a party fails to answer an interrogatory under Rule 33 or fails to permit inspection of documents under Rule 34, the requesting party may move the court for an order compelling discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3). For purposes of such a motion, “an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). Furthermore, a court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery . . . [when] the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)(C). A party is only required to produce documents in response to a request for production where those documents are “in the responding party's possession, custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a).

         a. Requests for Admission #17

         OBJECTION: This request is vague and confusing, as it is unclear what Plaintiff is asking.

Id.

         b. Request for Admission #92

         RESPONSE: Halal meals do not come off of the conveyor system.

         Defendants object to this request on the basis Plaintiff appears to be asking whether inmates are willing to do something and Defendant Perdue does not have this information. Dkt. 161 at 3. The Court agrees it cannot compel Defendant Perdue to infer or speculate as to what inmate kitchen staff would or would not be willing to do. However, it appears Plaintiff is asking whether non-halal can be replaced with halal foods during meal service. To this extent, the Motion to Compel is granted, in part. Defendants shall provide Plaintiff with a supplemental response, addressing whether non-halal foods can be replaced with halal foods during meal service.

         Admit #94: Many of the items, weekly, from the plaintiff's tray are either removed from his tray or his tray is picked-up prior to that item (i.e. potatoes, roll, etc.) being placed on the tray, and then they replace the removed or [withheld] item with other items like corn, sugar substitute, vegetables, etc.

         Defendants state it appears Plaintiff wants to understand how his metabolic tray is assembled, and whether items are removed from the mainline diet to produce the metabolic diet. Dkt. 161 at 3. Defendants, however, argue this is not the question asked and this request is unclear and confusing. Dkt. 161 at 3. The Court agrees Plaintiff's request is unclear. However, as Defendants point out, they appear to understand the underlying nature of this request for admission. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel on this request is granted, in part. Defendants shall provide Plaintiff with a supplemental response, addressing whether items are removed from plaintiff's meal tray to produce the metabolic diet.

d. Interrogatory #22

         Inter #22: For the week one standardized menu, please explain, for Tuesday morning, exactly at what point the diet line worker extracts the tray from the “passive” conveyor system (or otherwise accomplishes procuring a tray) and then explain how he prepares the rest of the meal. Where are the foods that are substituted kept, and how does he get these foods (i.e. sugar substitute, bread, peanut-butter etc.)

         OBJECTION: This request is vague and confusing, as it is unclear what Plaintiff means.

         Defendants state it appears Plaintiff wants to understand how his metabolic tray is assembled, and whether items are removed from the mainline diet to produce the metabolic diet. Dkt. 161 at 4. Defendants, however, argue this is not the question asked and this request is unclear and confusing. Dkt. 161 at 4. The Court agrees Plaintiff's request is unclear. However, as Defendants point out, they appear to understand the underlying nature of this request. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel on this request is granted, in part. Defendants shall provide Plaintiff with a supplemental response, addressing how his metabolic meal tray is assembled, including the location of the substitute foods.

         RFPD #1: Please provide a copy of any documents you used to track SCCC Kitchen inmate workers' man-hours for the 3rd quarter (July, Aug., Sept.) of 2016.

         Defendants state in another discovery request plaintiff was advised the SCCC kitchen does not track the amount of time it takes staff to prepare meal trays. Dkt. 161 at 4. The Court agrees this request is duplicative, overly broad and is not relevant nor is it likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence on the issue of whether Plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated due to the inadequacy of his halal diet, allergies to soy and TVP, and being served rotten meat, thereby infringing on his religious practices. See Dkt. 165. The Motion to Compel on this request is denied.

2. Defendant Smith
a. Request for Admission #19 ADMIT #19: Male inmates at SCCC, that qualify under DOC policy, are provided a bra and other ...

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